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CardboardGuru
01-17-2008, 12:13 PM
Recently, someone on this forum had a pop at me, claiming that my Defender Game was a breach of copyright. I explained that I didn't have access to William's defender, and therefore none of the code could possibly be a breach of copyright, and that I had drawn all the artwork myself. And further that the name Defender wasn't copyrightable.

Nevertheless, the fellow continued that it was definitely a breach of copyright, without ever being able to explain why.

Now as chance would have it, SlashDot today included a link in one of their stories that is directly relevant. The US Copyright Office explaining clearly that you cannot copyright a game, it's name or title, nor the method for playing it.

www.copyright.gov/fls/fl108.html (http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl108.html)

That seems to settle it pretty clearly. And will be of interest to all the other people here creating games programs.

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Help to build the Propeller wiki - propeller.wikispaces.com (http://propeller.wikispaces.com)
Play Defender - Propeller version of the classic game (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=685888)
Prop Room Robotics - my web store for Roomba spare parts (http://www.proproomrobotics.co.uk) in the UK

Post Edited (CardboardGuru) : 1/17/2008 5:23:44 AM GMT

potatohead
01-17-2008, 12:16 PM
Thank you for that post. Typical of /. mining the comments has always been gold. Have to dig though. Potatohead there too, BTW.

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Propeller Wiki: Share the coolness! (http://propeller.wikispaces.com/)

Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)
01-17-2008, 12:24 PM
And still, Hasbro has just issued a DMCA takedown notice to Facebook for their online Scrabble look-alike ("Scrabulus") and thinks they have a case. Even if they do, the document you cite seems to indicate that all that would have to change are the distinctive visual elements that resemble those of Scrabble, and which may thus be infringing.

-Phil

Dgswaner
01-17-2008, 12:25 PM
I'm not expert but I thought if something was modified 20% is was original. certainly a different name would need to be used. I know I've seen 100's of different type of pack man around. they look 100% different but the game play is the same? how do they get away with it. and how many versions of tetris or bejeweled are there out there? perhaps if we offer the Parallax Layer some long time AFKer he would give us some info.

added
oops I'm lexdisic. I read Why can't you copy write games.

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"A complex design is the sign of an inferior designer." - Jamie Hyneman, Myth Buster

DGSwaner

Post Edited (Dgswaner) : 1/17/2008 5:30:59 AM GMT

hippy
01-17-2008, 12:37 PM
I'm no lawyer but the situation appears to be generally the same in the UK ...

www.theregister.co.uk/2007/03/23/computer_games_copyright_law (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/03/23/computer_games_copyright_law)

However, note the paragraph which says, On the protection of ideas, Jacob quoted an opinion he gave himself in an earlier case. "The true position is that where an 'idea' is sufficiently general, then even if an original work embodies it, the mere taking of that idea will not infringe," he said in that ruling in 1994. "But if the 'idea' is detailed, then there may be infringement. It is a question of degree."

Same IANAL caveat, but I wouldn't be so confident that re-using a game's title would not infringe others rights ( trademark if not copyright ), as the case between Mythic Entertainment versus Microsoft showed a couple of years ago.

Non-US jurisdictions may have very different rules and laws on copyright than the US does.

Mike Green
01-17-2008, 12:38 PM
The biggest issue is how big a stick are they carrying. A large company with deep pockets can destroy a smaller company over a copyright issue even if the smaller company is legally right.

mosquito56
01-17-2008, 12:55 PM
lol,, I read somewhere that Microwhatever owns the copywrite for linux. Speaking of big sticks.

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Hmm, "What do you mean, it doesn't have any tubes?"

иииииии "No such thing as a dumb question" unless it's on the internet
ииииииии"What happens in Vegas ends up on the Internet"

Technologically challenged individual, Please have pity.

Oliver H. Bailey
02-23-2008, 07:45 AM
Copyright confusion?

I've been doing copyrights and patents for almost three decades and many of my friends wrote many of the original fantasy games.

While games can't be copyrighted their screens can, and so can the source code. So, if your screen is close to a copyrighted screen, you are liable for copyright infringment.

In fact, copyright law explicitly provides for copyrighting screens at the same time the code is copyrighted.

Product names aren't covered under copyright law, they are covered under trademark law and are cover under similar law as patents. Not only are names covered under trademark law, so is the artwork of the name.

There seems to be much misconception these days about copyrights, trademarks, and patents.

Changing a screen layout 20% may or may not be accepted if it is challenged in court. Judges are not idiots and patent, trademark, and copyright judges are required by law to also be degreed engineers.

Several recording artists thought the 20% rule would get them around the law and it didn't. And even the big guys get whacked for trying to take advantage. A judge has the power to revoke copyrights, patents, and trademarks. And not just the ones in question.

A couple years ago Xerox was found to be trying to put a little company out of business. The judge revoked the patent in question, and nine more worth millions of dollars as a lesson.

I've seen judges revoke entire portfolios of 20 to 30 patents for several reasons, so it's not just deep pockets who win.

And this year the supreme court will determine if software is even patentable. Software patents were not allowed for the first 40 years of software development. I've seen software patents issued on technology that was used way back in the days of apple and radio shack and is already covered under copyright law.

But most people don't have 30 years of software stored so they can't challenge a patent, and those that do somehow never get sued. The big guys aren't completely stupid. They have lists of names of people who are likely to be able to challenge them and they stay clear of them.

I hope this clears up some of the confusion.

Cheers,
Oliver

deSilva
02-23-2008, 07:53 AM
A highly interesting posting. Thanks!

Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)
02-23-2008, 08:04 AM
Oliver H. Bailey said...
But most people don't have 30 years of software stored ...

I do. But it's little comfort, since I don't have anything working any more that can still read computer cassette tapes or 5 1/4" floppy disks. And I wonder how much prior art is simply fading away on 9-track tapes and mildewed punch cards.

-Phil

stevenmess2004
02-23-2008, 08:37 AM
Phil said...
I do. But it's little comfort, since I don't have anything working any more that can still read computer cassette tapes or 5 1/4" floppy disks. And I wonder how much prior art is simply fading away on 9-track tapes and mildewed punch cards.

This is a problem. I've still got a 5 1/4" drive but its not hooked up to anything at the moment http://forums.parallax.com/images/smilies/smile.gif. Its a pity to lose a lot of this stuff. So much of it showed how much can be done with so little. Fortunately, (well maybe not) most of this code probably won't run on much now so it shouldn't really be a problem.

deSilva
02-23-2008, 09:00 AM
Besides a true magnetic reel, a box of punch cards and some 8 (!) inch floppies, I also keep a 20 M(!)B SCSI disk, with a complete MAC+ working environment. It should work with something of the order of a Propeller (8 MHz 86000, 512 kB RAM), and it most likely would do most of the things I do daily with my notebook.

stevenmess2004
02-23-2008, 09:19 AM
I got an old Mac from a tip with all the manuals+printer+paper+20 MB scsi harddrive+extra floppy drive+heaps of software and it all worked great. Then for some stupid reason I decided to sell it (made $20). Don't know why I did it but I would love to have it back. I'd love to make something like it with a prop. And yes, it probably did 90% of what I use my current MacBook Pro for.

Sorry for off topic post.

A little more on topic, it had some great games on it. Air hockey, a turn based strategy game and a fair few others that I can't remember. Maybe if I ever get around to it I could try make one of them for the prop.

VIRAND
02-23-2008, 11:36 AM
Oliver H. Bailey said...
And this year the supreme court will determine if software is even patentable. Software patents were not allowed for the first 40 years of software development. I've seen software patents issued on technology that was used way back in the days of apple and radio shack and is already covered under copyright law.

But most people don't have 30 years of software stored so they can't challenge a patent, and those that do somehow never get sued. The big guys aren't completely stupid. They have lists of names of people who are likely to be able to challenge them and they stay clear of them.



I do have 30 years of software (I wrote) and hardware, and hold on to it for that very reason in the second paragraph.
I invented a lot of things that are considered cool now but were very geeky at the time for being computerized.

KeithE
02-23-2008, 01:35 PM
Correct me if I'm wrong, but in the U.S. you can't keep something secret and then use it as prior art for patent busting. So if you're holding onto things for this reason, then you would also want to show that it was made public. The reason for this is to encourage you to file for a patent, since this will eventually expire and be usable by society at large. If you think that you can make more money by keeping something a trade secret, then you have to think about whether or not someone is going to be able to figure it out, and then patent it and come after you.

VIRAND
02-24-2008, 02:00 AM
That makes no sense to me since they could only have figured out my inventions after I built them.
But I suppose it does happen, and I won't live and die like Armstrong, Tesla, Farnsworth, etc.
I prefer to grant it all to public domain, especially because to patent a single thing is very expensive.
I have even published in public domain a method of digital volumetric image projection into empty air.